How A 50,000+HP, $35 Million Rolls-Royce Aircraft Engine Is Born

The Trent XWB turbofan engine manufactured by Rolls-Royce is designed to support the Airbus A350 jetliner; initially certified as the XWB-75 in February of 2013 by RR with a 74,200 lb thrust rating (per engine), the latest variant, the XWB-97, makes 97,000 lb of thrust per engine. The monstrous engines measure in at 228.8 inches of length–just a tad over 19 feet long from front to back–and over 50,000 horsepower per engine is at the pilot’s fingertips to help get a fully-loaded near-700,000-pound aircraft off the ground. More impressively, the XWB’s $35-million-dollar pricetag includes the latest innovations in material science and engineering techniques designed to provide superior performance in passenger aircraft.

Much like the automotive performance industry, the aircraft industry makes use of ceramic coatings, and the ones applied to the internal pieces of the XWB-97 allow 2,000-plus degree internal temperatures, which the company says minimizes emissions and maximizes fuel economy.

But perhaps the most impressive part of the XWB engine is the delicate, intricate dance required to assemble one from start to finish, seen here in this delicious video from Rolls-Royce. With over 20,000 components, hundreds of nuts and bolts, and what appears to be miles of safety wire, the XWB is brought to life.

The mesmerizing process of assembling each engine is one that takes many hours to complete, a wide variety of complex and specialized tools, large cranes, and a massive manufacturing facility. Also not to be overlooked is the extremely-specific training provided to the builders, and the massive facility required to bring these engines to life. The room needs to be spotless–all the time–in order to provide the builders with the sterile environment they require to ensure the engines will perform as required, for millions of hours, with people’s lives hanging in the balance.

The video offers a unique look into an exceptional facility filled with remarkable machinery and people. Check it out!

About the author

Jason Reiss

Jason draws on over 15 years of experience in the automotive publishing industry, and collaborates with many of the industry's movers and shakers to create compelling technical articles and high-quality race coverage.
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